20 November 2019
I have asked a meeting of Koala experts and on-ground practitioners in Brisbane tomorrow to urgently identify key priorities for Koala habitats in northern NSW and southern Queensland arising from Bushfires as they direct $3 million in Environment Restoration funding.
The continuing fire crisis in NSW and Queensland is taking a terrible toll on human life and property with the Prime Minister leading a national response to assist those in need, but the fires are also having a devastating effect on wildlife, destroying thousands of hectares of koala habitat across Northern NSW and South East Queensland in particular.
The Morrison Government’s Environment Restoration Fund has set aside $3 million for the protection and restoration of habitats in this region, and the meeting of koala experts from NSW and Queensland will identify the best responses to the impacts of the fires and the future needs of koala populations.
We are working with our Regional Land Partnership Service Providers in the region - North Coast Local Land Services, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services and Healthy Land and Water - to get funding on the ground and projects started as soon as possible.
The Department of Environment and Energy is also talking with Port Macquarie Koala Hospital which has been heavily involved in koala rescue and treatment on the mid-north NSW coast.
The Morrison Government’s $6 million in funding for koalas through the Environment Restoration Fund includes $3 million for hospitals in South-East Queensland and recognises the importance of koala populations in this region.
While the human tragedy of these fires remains the primary response, I have asked the Department to work with state governments and Regional Natural Resource Managers to monitor the broader wildlife impacts, particularly in relation to threatened species programs.
While adding my personal tribute to firefighters and the communities rallying to protect homes and livestock I would also acknowledge the work of wildlife hospitals, veterinarians and volunteers caring for native wildlife.